We know mental health is important. We know we should do everything in our power to make the lingering shame about discussing it go away, but we don’t always practice what we preach, do we?
Think about it. When you think about the general perception to mental health, what do you remember? Do you remember acceptance and shoulders to cry on, or do you remember something like this?
It doesn’t take a genius to know that we need to change the way we discuss mental health and illnesses because even when we try our best, we may still ruin things without noticing.
We shouldn’t, under any circumstances, turn mental health into a life-coaching issue.
Yes, we know this might be difficult, considering that you still want to help this friend or family member but falling in the preachy side helps no one most of the time.
When someone confides to you that they’re having trouble with their mental health or that they’re getting some increasingly dark thoughts, don’t tell them that they just need to “attract positivity” or anything along those lines.
All that ends up doing is making the person feel worse because apparently, they haven’t tried getting better.
Don’t be a hypocrite about the important things.
This might be a sensitive point for some, but we’re really not attacking anyone. We’ve noticed that people tend to do the opposite of what they’re recommending they and others do, case in point below.
You may notice that the ribbon this person has set for a profile picture urges others to “confide in them”, which is all fine until you notice he’s being rather unkind in his comments.
This may seem like a case of “well, they took it too hard” but you have to consider the impact behaviors like these cause.
We can do the right thing and point people in the right directions.
Encouraging your friends to never feel shame about discussing their mental health issues with you is important but there’s something more important you can do.
Encourage them to talk to professionals, whether online or offline. If availability or family or finances are issues, you can point them to specific resources to help ease their paths.
Every time you want to joke about mental illnesses, maybe take a pause.
We’re aware that people cope differently with their issues and that some people find that making fun of their illnesses makes them feel better, but these coping mechanisms can affect others too.
It may also trivialize these illnesses to a point where those living with them might think that it’s okay to go untreated or unaided because that’s how everybody else rolls. That’s not even getting into the fact that these jokes normalize a lot of negative behavior.
It’s not about you, it’s about them. Act accordingly.
Say you get unfortunately robbed blind by your taxi and you’re telling your friends all about it and naturally they turn to supporting you and having your back.
That should be nice and all but if a couple of friends keep mentioning “they’ll be there for you” and “they knew someone who’s been through this and it was fine”, it starts to feel less about you and your issue and more about your friend and their experiences. Not so nice, is it?
Consider this every time you tell someone to confide in you because you don’t judge and will always be there. Don’t make it about you. Sure, you can mention an anecdote or two but don’t take over the conversation and eventually leave your friend in the dust.